Gadsden State Community College will soon provide a new Standardized Patient Program thanks to funding made possible by a grant from the Stringfellow Health Fund Grant of the Community Foundation of Northeast Alabama. The total grant funding provided by CFNE is $19,199.14 with the Cardinal Foundation granting an additional $5,800.86 for a grand total of $25,000 for the project.

“The Standardized Patient Program will be used to train all disciplines of Health Science students at Gadsden State,” said Kenneth Kirkland, dean of Health Sciences. “SP programs are considered the next level above high-fidelity simulation, which are generally known as computer-controlled manikins. SPs are real people trained to act out medically-relevant scenarios so the student can be immersed into a realistic training scenario provided outside the clinical setting.”

Gadsden State intends to use the grant funds to completely outfit four standardized patient rooms and the equipment needed to start the SP program. The SP simulation will involve using trained individuals to portray the roles of patients, family members and others to allow students to practice physical exam skills, history-taking skills, communication skills and other exercises.

“The SP’s are people who are recruited and trained to take on characteristics of a real patient and provide the student an opportunity to learn and be evaluated on their skills in a simulated clinical environment,” Kirkland said. “Students will receive feedback from not only the faculty but also from the trained SP regarding their bedside manner and techniques.”

Through the program, Gadsden State students in one of the eight Health Science programs learn to deal with difficult family members or patients; deliver bad news to a patient and family; deal with behavioral health scenarios; and work to resolve interpersonal conflict or difficult co-workers in challenging situations.

“These scenarios are nearly impossible to train for without the use of standardized patients,” he said. “The use of SPs is also beneficial for more routine scenarios where the focus is on training physical exam techniques or communication skills critical for new graduates.”

Steve Hildebrant, the past president of the Cardinal Foundation, was instrumental in securing the grant. He said the foundation and its supporters are proud to be a part of this innovative new health education program.

“The Standardized Patient Program is filling the gap that exists between the skills acquired and behaviors expected of new entry-level graduates from our Health Science Division,” he said. “The ability to train a healthcare provider on how to deal with a variety of soft skills cannot be done with high-fidelity manikins but it can be done through our new SP program.”

Dr. Kathy Murphy, president of Gadsden State, is grateful for the financial support received from the Stringfellow Health Fund Grant for the Standardized Patient Program.

“It’s always wonderful to provide innovative and unique training to our students, and I’m excited about implementing the SP program,” she said. “This program will make a huge impact on our Health Science Division, its students and the patients our graduates will eventually serve. We appreciate the contributions made by the Community Foundation of Northeast Alabama to Gadsden State.”

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